I have always struggled with my body image for as young as I can remember as I’ve always been bigger than my peers my whole entire life. I’ve always felt inferior and less attractive because of the size of my body. I would only ever wear black, loose-fitting clothes because I believed it would make me appear slimmer. I pretty much just wanted to blend in with the background and not be seen. I remember in school it was own clothes day and you had to come dressed in yellow and I wore all black head to toe and yellow socks because the thought of wearing colours would bring me close to having a panic attack. My friends and my other classmates laughed at me the whole day for wearing all black and I just wanted to just curl up in a ball and disappear. I cried myself to sleep that night and just repeatedly asking myself why can’t I just be normal and slim like everyone else.
Londoner Antonia Jade uses her online platforms to encourage body confidence and self-love. The 23 year old vlogger speaks openly and directly to her audience, reinforcing one crucial message; you are beautiful no matter what. On her YouTube, she talks honestly about her experiences growing up with low confidence, feeling like an outcast because of her size. As part of a year-long project with fashion brand COLLUSION, Antonia is documenting a wealth of body-positivity, her passion for inclusive fashion, her innovative style and her desire to make a change. Here, she opens up exclusively to Glamour about her struggles with her body shape and what brands need to do to show true inclusivity
I still get emotional when talking about my weight and my journey because it is still very much a big part of my life that I do struggle with, granted not as much as I used to, but those self-hating thoughts and feelings do creep back in often. The desire to be slim took over my life. Losing weight was the only thing on my mind 24/7, even when I had lost weight, which lead to disordered eating and anxiety, I was still obsessed with being as slim as physically possible.
That all changed when I came across the body positivity hashtag on Instagram three years ago, I felt like I was finally home. Seeing women of all different shapes, sizes and races wear bikinis (which I used to believe was socially illegal for plus-sized women) and breaking ridiculous fashion stereotypes and restrictions that society has imprisoned plus-size women with was exhilarating and comforting. Unfortunately, that’s not what is represented in the mainstream media and within brands. I want brands and the mainstream media to really capture the true diversity of the body positivity movement and the true beauty, confidence and variety of fashion styles that plus-size women have, rather than branding us as insecure, self-loathing and wanting to hide our bodies under black floral smock dresses. A lot of us want to wear crop tops and bikinis too you know!
Undoubtedly the body positive movement is changing many people’s lives, such as myself, and is such an important movement but it feels as though its being exploited for monetary gain by brands rather than being truly inclusive. Brands are still having completely separate styles with their plus size ranges compared to their straight size range that does not reflect the brand image in the slightest. They’re also only having one woman of colour and one size 16 model in campaigns which is not truly inclusive nor does it show true representation. Tokenism is rife within mainstream body positivity and it is so frustrating to continually see. Tokenism is NOT true representation. Where are the dark-skinned women? Where are the plus-size women over a size 20? Where are the southeast Asian women? Where are the trans women? Where are the women with disabilities?
Body positivity was created by and for people with marginalised bodies for them to be and feel celebrated in a world that doesn’t celebrate or respect them, and yet the mainstream version of the body positive movement has now ostracised those very people from a movement created for them, by them.
Beauty, confidence, style and self-expression is not and should not be dependent on the size clothes you wear. We ALL deserve to be seen, heard and celebrated.